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Pfeiffer opens virtual gallery during COVID-19 outbreak

Art fans have a few more days to enjoy an exhibit like no other.

Pfeiffer University students participated in a virtual gallery, since they could not have their usual in-person exhibit because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Every year Pfeiffer University puts on an exhibition to highlight the creative works of our undergraduate students,” Josh Cross, associate professor of art, said. “Open to all students regardless of major, any student can enter as many pieces as they wish. We have had a couple different display spaces on campus over the years with the most recent being in the G. A. Pfeiffer library.”

The pieces were due and installed in late March.

And then COVID-19 happened.

“College campuses everywhere started having to make decisions about large gatherings, classes, athletics and the like,” Cross said. “With Pfeiffer deciding to go to all online classes and the cancellation of events and gatherings on campus, that put this year’s version of the art show in limbo. Then an extremely positive thing came out of all this pandemic situation. Almost overnight there was a huge wave of sharing of information, ideas and possibilities from people in all walks of life. A Facebook group was started on March 10 specifically for teachers of art classes. Schools everywhere were trying to figure out the same things. How do I teach painting online? How do I teach ceramics online? What if a student has no internet access? And how can we continue to put on end of year art exhibits for students and graduating seniors (of which are a requirement for most art majors)?”

Cross said one solution was a link to kunstmatrix.com, a web hosting company in Berlin, Germany.

“They said they had discounts for educational entities and non-profits,” Cross said. “I inquired and found out that ‘discount’ meant free. I thought that would be a good solution and it turned out pretty well. Students were excited to know that the show would still go on. Everyone I have heard from that has visited the virtual gallery has been impressed. The students should be proud.”

Best of Show went to Nadia Ray for her acrylic and metallic paint on canvas of singer Billie Eilish.

“Having my art appear in this new form was something really special to me,” Ray, a freshman from Hudson, said. “I love that other people get to see my artwork in a different space — and also get to see some of my talent.

Ray said she painted Eilish for her friend Nu-Kwan as a present.

“When doing it I tried to find a picture that I thought was cool and that would stand out,” Ray said. “Billie always has a gold chain around her neck that spells out her name so I thought it would be cool to put his name instead.”

Ray, 18, has been studying art for nearly 10 years.

“I got my first drawing book of animals and mystical creatures around that age and started practicing from there,” Ray said. “Ever since I’ve always found art in my everyday life and got inspiration from it. Art was an escape from reality. Art is something you create, so it can be whatever you want it to be.”

Merit 1 went to Davis Lowman, a junior visual communications major from Clemmons, for an untitled acrylic on panel piece.

An untitled piece by Davis Lowman.

“It felt a little odd to see my art in this digital gallery,” Lowman said. “In a way it felt both good and bad as I love video games, so seeing it there felt like finally having my art in a game, but at the same time one of my pieces was incompatible with the format but such is the way the cookie crumbles.”

Lowman, 21, found inspiration in a love of outdated technology and unusual art.

“Digitizing Gameboy camera photos in a way that is practically usable in the modern world was a challenge and as such I felt I needed to tackle it in my own unique way as to preserve the color of the image instead of simply saving a black and white image,” Lowman said. “As for the sunset over the ocean scene, I was wanting to practice my color mixing and blending so I went with trying to make the oranges of a beautiful sunset over unobstructed sea.”

Alexus Downing, a sophomore studio art major from Sneads Ferry, placed Merit 2 for the acrylic on canvas “Garcons Vintage Collage.”

“It is very interesting to have my art displayed through a virtual exhibition,” Downing said. “It’s a new experience that I perceived to be really neat. I appreciate my professor, Cross, for being able to make this exhibition still available.

“My inspiration for this piece was aesthetic modern-day objects. I chose these pieces and put them into a collage because it says a little about me personally,” Downing added. “The vibrant colors and differences in the pieces draw the eye.”

“Garcons Vintage Collage” by Alexus Downing.

Pfeiffer adjunct art instructor Felicia Julien, juror of the show, selected the acrylic on board “Alienated” by Amber Corn of Currituck as the juror’s choice winner.

“Alienated” by Amber Corn.

The exhibit can be viewed through April 19 at https://artspaces.kunstmatrix.com/en/exhibition/529877/15th-annual-juried-student-art-exhibit thanks to Kunstmatrix for hosting the show for free.

B.J. Drye is editor of The Stanly News & Press. Call 704-982-2123, or follow bjdrye1 on Twitter.